IMF gives Iran short-term thumbs-up – but sanctions cast a longer shadow

The Iranian economy will grow by 3.5% this year and 3.8% in 2018 , according to the IMF”s latest World Economic Outlook report, despite the spectre of the Trump administration imposing further sanctions on Tehran.
The report also records that Iran’s GDP grew by 12.5% in 2016, in a surge that was a direct result of the lifting of sanctions imposed in reaction to  Iran’s nuclear energy program,  and a rise in crude oil output from 2.5m to 3.8m bpd by March 2017; and even with the imminent threat of US President Donald Trump ‘decertifying’ the 2015 accord that led to the sanctions being lifted, Iran will be allowed to carry on pumping oil at that rate until March 2018 under the terms of an OPEC deal aimed at eroding global inventories and shoring up the price of crude.
While this deal makes the  IMF’s forecast for the next two years a fairly safe bet, it is by no means certain that its further prediction of a 4.1% growth rate by 2022 is such a foregone conclusion in the light of US hostility. Yesterday, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives in Congress introduced a bill calling for the administration to identify the people and the “foreign and domestic supply chain in Iran that directly or indirectly significantly facilitates, supports, or otherwise aids” the ballistic missile program. 
Trump was due make an announcement today at  12:45 p.m. EDT when he was expected to announce that he will not certify the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which he has called the “worst deal ever” and not in the  US national interest.
The step would not withdraw the United States from the deal but would give  Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under an agreement that was negotiated by the United States and other world powers during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
If this were also to result in  further sanctions being imposed on Iran’s supply chain  it would put a serious brake on inflows of the foreign investment Tehran needs to restore the health of its ageing oilfields and to boost output.
Even before Trump came to power last year, many  foreign companies remained reluctant to invest in the Islamic Republic for fear that the agreement could collapse, and last summer its deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs Amir Hossein Zamaninia accused the US  Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control  of “somewhat terrorising” banks from resuming business In Iran by deliberately failing to clarify how European banks and investors were allowed to operate in Iran without  falling foul of  US law.